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The Narcissist’s Prayer Explained (+FREE Worksheets)

The Narcissist's Prayer

This post explains the meaning behind the Narcissist’s Prayer.

The Narcissist’s Prayer (by Dayna Craig)

That didn’t happen.
And if it did, it wasn’t that bad.
And if it was, that’s not a big deal.
And if it is, that’s not my fault.
And if it was, I didn’t mean it.
And if I did, you deserved it.

The Narcissist’s Prayer features all hallmarks of narcissistic emotional abuse: Denial, invalidating, gaslighting, blameshifting, accountability issues, and guilt-tripping.

The narcissist refuses to face the consequences of their actions and would do everything they can to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Protect Yourself From a Narcissist

The Narcissist’s Prayer Explained

1. Denial – “That Didn’t Happen.”

The narcissist would disown whatever makes them look bad.

They have a deep need to feel special and flawless.

But they don’t just hide their imperfections and shortcomings from other people, they would also hide them from themselves.

The shame of making a mistake or having a flaw is too painful for them to bear.

Denial might also sound like:

“I never did that.”

“I never said that.”

“You’re remembering things wrong.”

“You’re imagining things.”

“You’re always twisting things.”

“You’re confusing me with someone else.”

“You know I would never do anything like that.”

Related: How To Emotionally Detach From A Narcissist?

2. Invalidating – “And If It Did, It Wasn’t That Bad”

The narcissist’s lack of empathy and self-centeredness makes it almost impossible for them to realize or acknowledge the pain they inflict on someone else.

The logic goes like this: If I feel good, then you have no reason to feel bad.

The narcissist will minimize your experience and invalidate your feelings.

Invalidation might also sound like:

“That was a long time ago.”

“You’re acting like a child.”

“You seem okay to me.”

“Other people have it worse.”

“That’s not important right now.”

“Oh poor you, get over it.”

Related: When A Narcissist Sees You Cry: Top 13 Reactions You May Be Familiar With

3. Gaslighting – “And If It Was, That’s Not A Big Deal”

The narcissist would try to manipulate your perception of reality and get you to question your own judgment.

Gaslighting might also sound like:

“You’re too sensitive.”

“You are overreacting.”

“Don’t be so dramatic!”

“You’re being irrational.”

“Why would you let something so small ruin our relationship?”

Related: Am I Being Gaslighted Quiz (& How To Recover From Gaslighting In 10 Steps)

4. Shifting The Blame – “And If It Is, That’s Not My Fault.”

The narcissist cannot face the consequences of their own actions.

They can always find something or someone to blame.

Simply acknowledging their role in what’s happening is too shameful to bear.

Shifting The Blame might also sound like:

“It’s not my fault that happened.”

“You made me do it”

“I haven’t taken my meds”

“I hadn’t had my coffee.”

5. Accountability Issues – “And If It Was, I Didn’t Mean It”

Narcissists may apologize, but they never mean it.

They give a false apology to simply appease you or to avoid taking responsibility for their own behavior.

But they never reflect on the harm they inflicted, feel remorse, or work toward a real change.

Accountability issues might also sound like:

“Geez, I was just joking.”

“This is how I’ve always done things.”

“I didn’t mean it like that, obviously.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way.”

“I’m sorry if you think I did something wrong.”

“I was just trying to help.”

“I don’t know why I do these things.”

Related: 21 Stages of a Narcissist Relationship (+FREE Breakup Recovery Worksheets)

6. Guilt-Tripping – “And If I Did, You Deserved It.”

The narcissist would always find something to accuse you of and make you feel like you deserved what they did to you.

For instance, if they cheat on you, they may claim that they did it because you didn’t lose enough weight to look attractive to them.

The arguments they would use to persuade you that something is your fault are often illogical but they choose to believe them and deliver them with such convincing fanfare that you find yourself filled with feelings of guilt.

Guilt-tripping might also sound like:

“You brought this onto yourself”

“If you did/didn’t… I wouldn’t have done it.”

“If you don’t like it, you can leave.”

“You need help.”

“If only you had…”

Related: 8 Stages Of Healing After Narcissistic Abuse (+FREE Breakup Recovery Worksheets)

Who Is The Narcissist?

In a nutshell, narcissists are people who lack empathy.

Because of their lack of empathy, they’re unlikely to self-reflect or take responsibility for their own action and they’re unlikely to consider other people’s feelings.

Narcissists are also people who display a pervasive pattern of grandiosity and an insatiable need for attention and admiration from others.

All psychologists agree that narcissism begins in childhood.

There are three main factors that are responsible for narcissism: genetics, biological and social. In most cases, it is an intertwining of all three.

Related: 21 Stages of a Narcissist Relationship (+FREE Breakup Recovery Worksheets)

Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD

A narcissist isn’t necessarily a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD.

Narcissism is a range or spectrum of severity.

A bit too much in excess, narcissism can be diagnosed as a Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-5-TR), five (or more) of the following criteria should be present for an NPD diagnosis:

“1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).

2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.

3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).

4. Requires excessive admiration.

5. Has a sense of entitlement (i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations).

6. Is interpersonally exploitative (i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends).

7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.

8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.

9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.”

Note: Only a licensed professional in the field of mental health can make a diagnosis of any personality disorder, including NPD.

Related: Top 5 Reasons Why Narcissists Target Empaths – & How to Starve The Narcissist of Supply

Emotional Abuse Recovery Worksheets

How to Protect Yourself from the Abuse of a Narcissist?

Protecting oneself from the abuse of a narcissist is crucial for personal well-being and mental health. Here are some strategies you can consider:

1. Educate Yourself

Gain a deep understanding of narcissistic behaviors, traits, and manipulation tactics.

This knowledge will empower you to recognize and label abusive patterns, helping you to separate yourself emotionally from the narcissist’s harmful behaviors.

2. Set Boundaries

Determine what you are comfortable with and what behaviors or actions are unacceptable to you.

This could include emotional manipulation, verbal abuse, invasion of privacy, or excessive demands.

Communicate your boundaries directly and clearly to the narcissist.

Use “I” statements to express how their behavior affects you and what you expect moving forward.

For example, say, “I will not tolerate being yelled at or insulted. If that happens, I will walk away.”

Narcissists may try to push your boundaries or provoke you.

Maintain your composure and project confidence when enforcing your boundaries.

Avoid getting defensive or engaging in arguments, as it may fuel their manipulative tactics.

Whenever possible, minimize your interactions with the narcissist.

This could mean limiting communication or avoiding situations where they are present.

If you must interact, keep interactions brief and focused on practical matters. Avoid discussing personal or sensitive topics.

Related: How To Set Boundaries With A Narcissist?

3. Don’t Engage in Provocation

Narcissists thrive on conflict and drama.

Avoid engaging in arguments or attempting to reason with them.

Responding calmly or disengaging altogether can help deescalate situations and reduce their power over you.

4. Practice Self-Care

Focus on your own well-being by engaging in activities that bring you joy and promote self-care.

This can include exercise, hobbies, spending time with loved ones, therapy, or meditation.

Prioritize self-care to maintain your emotional strength.

5. Build a Support Network

Surround yourself with supportive friends, family, or a therapist who can provide validation, guidance, and a safe space to express your emotions.

Sharing your experiences with those who understand and empathize can be immensely healing.

6. Develop Emotional Resilience

Enhance your emotional resilience by nurturing self-compassion, self-esteem, and self-confidence.

This will help counter the effects of gaslighting and manipulation by reinforcing your own worth and identity.

Related: How Resilience Works? Top 10 Powerful Ways to Stay Healthy and Happy During Tough Times

7. Document Incidents

Keep a record of any abusive incidents, including dates, times, and descriptions.

This can serve as evidence if you decide to involve legal authorities or seek professional help.

8. Seek Professional Help

Consider seeking guidance from a therapist experienced in narcissistic abuse.

They can provide you with strategies to cope with the emotional toll of the abuse and support your healing process.

9. Detach Emotionally

Recognize that you cannot change or fix a narcissist.

Detaching emotionally and accepting this reality can help you prioritize your own well-being and move forward.

Related: Rational Detachment – What Is It and How to Cultivate it

10. Create an Exit Plan

If you are in a romantic relationship or living situation with a narcissist, it is essential to plan for your safe exit.

Consult with professionals who can help you devise a strategy that ensures your safety and minimizes potential retaliation.

11. Maintain No Contact

Establishing and maintaining no contact with the narcissist after leaving the relationship is often the safest option.

This means blocking their phone number, email, and social media profiles to minimize potential avenues of manipulation and contact.

12. Practice Self-Validation

Remind yourself that your feelings and experiences are valid.

Narcissists often try to invalidate and gaslight their victims.

Trust your instincts and seek reassurance from trusted sources that what you are experiencing is real and not your fault.

Related: How To Respond To Invalidation? Top 7 Things You Can Do

Depending on the severity of the abuse, it may be necessary to explore legal options such as obtaining a restraining order, filing for custody, or involving law enforcement.

Consult with an attorney specializing in family or domestic abuse law to understand your rights and available courses of action.

Remember, each situation is unique, and not all strategies may apply to your specific circumstances.


Are Narcissists Delusional?

Delusions are fixed false beliefs that are not based on reality. They can manifest in various ways, such as believing that one is superior to others or having grandiose fantasies about their achievements and abilities.

These delusions serve to maintain and reinforce the narcissist’s inflated self-image.

While narcissists can display delusional thinking at times, not all narcissists are necessarily delusional.

Some may have a more realistic perception of themselves and their capabilities, even though they still exhibit narcissistic traits.

Are Narcissists Aware of Their Behavior?

In some cases, narcissists may be aware of their behavior to some extent.

However, their awareness is often limited as they tend to lack insight into how their actions and words affect others.

Narcissists typically have a distorted self-image and view themselves as superior to others, making it difficult for them to recognize the negative impact they may have on those around them.

Do Narcissists Get Worse With Age?

Research has suggested that narcissistic traits may become less pronounced over time. (source)

Some people may experience a decrease in narcissistic behaviors as they mature and gain more insight into their personality. Others may receive treatment to help mitigate their symptoms.

However, some individuals with narcissistic traits may be more likely to experience feelings of anger, sadness, and disappointment as they grow older.

As older narcissists face a decline in physical and cognitive abilities, they may become more frustrated and aggressive in their behavior.

What Is Narcissistic Supply, and Why Do Narcissists Need It?

Narcissistic supply refers to the attention, admiration, and validation that narcissists crave from others.

They need this constant external validation to maintain their fragile self-esteem and to regulate their sense of self-worth.

Narcissists seek out admiration and attention as a way to reinforce their grandiose self-image and to feel superior to others.

Related: Somatic Narcissist: Top 7 Signs

Why Do Narcissists Struggle With Empathy?

Narcissists often struggle with empathy because their focus is primarily on themselves and their own needs.

They have difficulty understanding or relating to the emotions and experiences of others.

This self-centeredness can lead to a lack of compassion and an inability to genuinely connect with others on an emotional level.

What Are The Long-Term Effects of Being In a Relationship With a Narcissist?

Being in a relationship with a narcissist can have significant and lasting effects on one’s psychological well-being.

It can erode self-esteem, lead to feelings of worthlessness, and cause emotional trauma.

Additionally, victims of narcissistic abuse may experience anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and difficulty forming trusting relationships in the future.

Do Narcissists Ever Feel Remorse or Guilt?

While it is rare for narcissists to genuinely feel remorse or guilt due to their limited capacity for empathy, it is not entirely impossible.

In some cases, they may show superficial expressions of remorse or guilt to manipulate others or gain sympathy.

However, these displays are often short-lived and may only serve their own self-interests.

Related: Narcissist Compassion: What Is It and How To Protect Yourself

Can Narcissists Have Healthy, Fulfilling Relationships?

Developing healthy and fulfilling relationships can be challenging for narcissists.

Their self-centeredness, lack of empathy, and manipulation tendencies make it difficult to sustain genuine connections based on mutual respect and trust.

However, some individuals with narcissistic traits can seek therapy and work on developing self-awareness and empathy, which can improve their capacity for healthier relationships.

FREE Toxic Relationship Worksheets

journaling prompts - The Narcissist’s Prayer Explained (+FREE Toxic Relationship Worksheets)


  • Portions of this article were adapted from the book Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-5-TR), © 2021 by the American Psychiatric Association. All rights reserved.

By Hadiah

Hadiah is a counselor who is passionate about supporting individuals on their journey towards mental well-being. Hadiah not only writes insightful articles on various mental health topics but also creates engaging and practical mental health worksheets.

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